Cool Free Tools

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This article offers some free or demonstration software available on the Internet that instructors or students might find interesting.

Considerations

The article below from Educause discusses the issues to consider when linking third party applications into sites. You might find it helpful to point out some issues you may not of thought of.

Educause - Policy as an Enabler of Student Engagement
EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 45, no. 5 (September/October 2010): 104–105 by Merri Beth Lavagnino

Institutions are now struggling to accommodate pedagogical advances without putting the institution at risk for lawsuits. This article discusses the complexity of instructors adding third-party tools and social media for student engagement into their course-sites. Considerations about issues such as privacy, security and intellectual property or copyright implications are explored and some guidelines are suggested. Additional links to other sites discussing the issues are available in the Notes section at the bottom of the article.

Faculty of Education - The Open Page

The Faculty of Education hosts The Open Page which is home to a collection of CC-licensed (Creative Commons) content reviewing education technologies:a digital tool parade. The open videos and podcasts provide student-led reviews of educational technology for the classroom and beyond. Reviews of tools, student data, and differentiated possibilities are discussed. Check it out!

Contribute to the List

Please forward information about your favourite resource(s) that you've found in your journey using the web to bbconsults@uwindsor.ca so we can share with each and build this resource.

Here are a few of our favourites with their links under some categories we've started. If your resource doesn't fit into the categories we've set up, please let us know where you think it might fit. Make sure you've tested your resource first before recommending it, and if you have any cautionary notes about its use, please let us know. In the future, this page will be able to be updated by members of the University of Windsor campus directly, so stay tuned!

Cool Free Tools

Productivity

  • Open Office is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.
  • Google Suite allows for the create and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Google Suites store documents online and access them from any computer and supports sharing and collaborative and concurrent editing.

Scheduling

  • Doodle Doodle is a scheduling platform that allows for multiple people to give input to choose a meeting time in an easy visual format. It is free to create a doodle. Doodle also offers a subscription platform that allows syncing to calendars and book ability with colleagues.

Multimedia Content Creation (Screencasting /Video/Audio)

  • Audacity is an open-source free Audio editor for recording, slicing, and mixing audio. This editor and recorder needs to be downloaded and is accessible with a variety of operating systems.
  • Apowersoft Online is a free screen recorder. This allows for you to take screenshots or record video of online action and share it over the web. A download is required to use the program.
  • SoundCloud is a free hosting platform that allows for sharing of music and podcasts to share and listen with friends and fans.

Bookmarking

  • Symbaloo can create bookmark collections of web links and embed access through html on websites.
  • Linktree can create a feed of links to content through a free customizable mobile friendly website.

Communication

  • Skype allows for audio and video calling through Voice Over Internet Protocol(VOIP) for free. Charges for calling to a landline or mobile. Other features include file and screen sharing. Skype is accessible over multiple operating systems and devices through a downloadable application or program.
  • Zoom allows for audio/video conference calling through Voice Over Internet Protocol(VOIP). Free' plan allows for unlimited person to person meetings and a limit of 40 minutes for group meetings with an unlimited number of meetings.

File Sharing

  • DropBoxUp to 2 GB of free online file storage space. You can share files with friends and software will map a network drive to your computer which will synchronize when you save your documents.

Graphics and Design

  • Flickris a photo sharing site.
  • GIMPhe volunteer developers of The GIMP have been working hard to develop a polished, user-friendly, and freely distributed image editor.
  • Canva is a design and publishing site that has some free features alongside of subscription for access to images.
  • Piktochart is a design and publishing site that allows for creation of info-graphics that has some free features alongside of a subscription option for expanded features and acccess.

Assistive Software & Accessibility Checkers

Resources

  • Wikipedia Online public editable encyclopedia
  • PB Works Online collaboration tool. Provides hosted wikis so no need to install or maintain your own.
  • DiRT - The Digital Resource Tools list Full of suggestions of tools to let you do all sorts of things: analyze data or text, create mashups, mine, search, share, annotate, visualize, collaborate, etc.
  • CNET Download.com Find the software you're looking for at CNET Download.com, the most comprehensive source for free-to-try software downloads on the Web.

Online Interactive Tools

  • FlockDraw is a free whiteboard/drawing tool with code that you can embed into a web page that allows multiple people to share a whiteboard with basic editing tools.
  • PreziCreate zooming presentations live or on the web.
  • HotPotatoes Create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the web. Freeware.
  • Poll Everywhere (free for up to 40 participants) polling tool that can be used for interactivity in class where high stakes assessment is not a factor.Students can use their own devices to respond. We do not recommend this tool if you are using the interactivity for grading purposes, but they could be very helpful for increasing engagement and group work during classes. This tool is featured in a video done by DePaul University where two professors discuss using them http://youtu.be/OcfD3TOTa98.
  • Socrative (limit 50) is a free interactive polling and quiz tool that can be used for interactivity within and outside the classroom. It includes a pre-formatted exit card that can be used for student feedback. We do not recommend this tool if you are using the interactivity for grading purposes, but they could be very helpful for increasing engagement and group work during classes. This tool is featured in a video done by DePaul University where two professors discuss using them http://youtu.be/OcfD3TOTa98.
  • Voyeur A tool for analyzing and visualizing texts.
  • Wordleis a toy for generating word clouds from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.
  • xtraNormal Create videos using prefab sets, characters, and videos. Free account includes enough points to make 1-2 videos. Free upgrade to educator account by request.
  • Google Forms Create a survey using Google Forms. You can also create a form from a Google spreadsheet. Useful for low-stakes quizzes, polls, etc.

Concept Mapping or Brainstorming

  • Google Draw is in a familiar format, and online, and you can just as easily share and collaborate on projects in real time.
  • MindMup * is a Zero-friction (accessible from any device) online open-source, productivity mind-mapping software. Can save to Google Drive or save as image, html table, text, email, post to Twitter or Facebook.
  • CoMapping (or Cayra or bubbl.us)is online mind mapping software to manage and share information. Use it to take notes, plan and organize. It's a way to have one set of notes. One set of files. For everyone.
  • MindMeister is an online mind mapping tool. Free version allows for the creation of 3 mind maps and supports real-time collaboration.
  • WiseMapping is a free web based mind mapping tool that allows for embedding content into web pages. It supports collaboration.
  • Gliffy is an online diagram platform. It supports creating diagrams, organisation chart, process model and mind maps. It offers a free trial version and pricing plans for additional features.
  • XMind is a downloadable mind map software. There is a free trial version that provides some features. There are watermarks on exported mind maps.
  • SpiderScribeis an online mind mapping and brainstorming tool. It lets you organise your ideas by connecting notes, files, calendar events, etc. in free-form maps. You can collaborate and share those maps online. Free personal version allows for unlimited public maps, 3 private maps, and limited storage.
  • Mindomo is an online and downloadable mind mapping software. Free version allows 3 mind maps, sharing, publishing and collaboration in real time.

Social Media

  • Twitter Professors may wish to include a Twitter feed in their class as a communications tool. Instructions on how to embed a Twitter Feed into some of Blackboard's Content Area items is found in the "Add Twitter Widget" article.

Related Articles

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